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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Why Telecom Regulation Needs to Change


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The Internet has had an obviously revolutionary effect on the way people find and disseminate information; but it’s had no less revolutionary an effect on the organization of the telecommunications industry. Where the industry was, in the past, dominated by a few huge companies with aligned interests, it’s now a tumult of startups charging hard in different directions. Google and Facebook became billion-dollar companies with virtually no control over the networks on which their services depend, and there’s no guarantee that their interests will converge with those of Verizon and Comcast.

In this new environment, argues Chintan Vaishnav, a postdoc in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, regulatory bodies, too, need to adopt a new approach. The weekend of Oct. 1, at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference in Arlington, Va., Vaishnav presented a thoroughgoing mathematical analysis of the effects of regulation on the telecommunications industry to an audience of regulators and other academics.

The upshot of his analysis: In the Internet age, regulators need to concentrate more on building consensus among disparate economic actors; at the same time, they need to prevent companies from accumulating such dominant market positions that they stifle competition.

From MIT News Office
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